There are few times a year that I seek out boardgames around the days of the calendar and even fewer holidays that will have me seeking out a game theme to match the season. I do not set aside 2-player games for Valentine's Day, I do not look for any Irish games on my favorite food holiday of the year, and even though I love the Christmas season, Christmas music, get togethers, and celebrating the year’s end, I do not set aside games for those days. The only time of the year that I will plan, seek out, or theme games to a season is Halloween. Here in the US Halloween is celebrated on the 31st of October. It is a day that has its origins based on an ancient Celtic festival where it was thought that the souls of loved ones who had passed could return to visit families. Very similar in that aspect to Día de los Muertos which is celebrated in Latin culture. Although here in the US Halloween has been more transformed into a commercial holiday based around horror and candy.
Since I grew up in that horror, macabre, and free candy age, Halloween was a huge part of my youth. What kid does not like tons of free candy? As an adult, my opinions have changed and what I do in the Halloween season has changed also. I am not one for the horror movies, and throw some darker themed games on to the gametable and I am ready to grab my pillowcase for some real trick or treats. So what games do I seek out and why those games?
Fury of Dracula: Dracula is all about the macabre of the season. But, Fury of Dracula is more about the hide and seek, and deduction than the macabre. There are other games that also fit into the niche like Letters From White Chaple and Specter Ops. However, Fury of Dracula brings these both together perfectly for me. One player is Dracula who is sneaking through the land trying to build hideouts, create minions, and produce more vampires. The other players are all vampire hunters who are tracking down and trying to eliminate Dracula and destroy everything he is working to create. Dracula moves stealthily across Europe while the hunters follow, lead, and work to pinpoint his location and defeat him in mortal combat. Very fun hidden movement game.
Mysterium. Nothing says it is Halloween than having friends over and making an attempt to channel the dead in order to solve a murder from the 1920s. In Mysterium, one player plays as the ghost while the remaining players are mediums who have been call to channel the dreamlike images the ghost projects to those who are clairvoyant enough the understand these images and solve the murder from years ago. Each medium is assigned a suspect, a murder location, and a means of murder. The game is played over several hours, or rounds, each hour the ghost will give each medium anywhere from 1 to 7 cards which each medium will then use to identify their suspect, room, and murder weapon. At the end of the night there will be one final set of cards that most all of the mediums must identify.
Zombie Dice, is a very simple dice throwing game where players are zombies and they are on a mad rush to find and catch more brains. A player will draw three dice from the bag or cup depending on the version being used. Once rolled, check the results. If a brain is rolled, set it aside, you can score those as long as you are not shot down. If a gun blast is rolled that die is now locked and remains in play. If you ever have three gun blasts in front of you, your turn ends and you drop all the brains you have collected that round and you score nothing.